Meaningful Use 2 and the Patient Portal
As Meaningful Use Stage 2 requires that 50% of patients sign up for a patient portal and 5% use it, hospitals are deploying such portals at a rapid rate but are facing the challenges of getting patients to follow through.
In a recent conversation with a hospital CMIO, she indicated that they were going to deploy staff to the bedside with tablets to help patients log in to their portal to meet the patient utilization requirement. This is a costly approach that may help the hospital to meet the letter of the law, but does it meet the spirit of the requirement?
The problem is with this narrow definition of patient portal. Typically, these portals are designed for PC-based use, delivering a patient view of the hospital care summary. They are typically not designed as easy-to-use mobile applications that consumers want to use (see Americans want health via smart phones). What is being ignored is the role of patient behavior in the process.
For patients to sign-up for these tools (50% requirement) and then use them (5% requirement), these products must be designed with the discerning consumer in mind. Patients have a choice of whether they want to be engaged or not. Offer the consumer something they will want to use.
Ideally, portal features and benefits should be easy to use and accessible on a smartphone. Patients should be able to access a record of a hospital stay or lab test and have this information along side of patient-contributed data to help facilitate future conversations with their doctors. Patient contributed data should come from easy to use tools such as a medication management tool or a glucose tracker that record events between doctor visits.
If hospitals want patients to access and use these portal offerings, they must deliver benefits that are aligned with the individuals own health goals and do so on a device that matches current consumer demands for ease and mobility.